Warnings raised over student housing fire hazards

Warren Lewis
6th October 2017
fire damage

Total Landlord Insurance has issued a warning to students and their landlords over fire hazards in rented properties, as latest figures reveal that 24% of high value claims (over £20,000) have been as a result of a fire.

The most common causes of fire related claims are cigarettes, candles, appliances left on, overuse of extension leads, deep fat fryers and portable heaters. Students moving into shared houses for the first time are likely to be filling plug banks with numerous electrical devises (laptops, phone chargers, and televisions), cooking using appliances they may not be familiar with and potentially smoking whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Eddie Hooker, CEO of Total Landlord Insurance says: “It’s easy for students to get caught up in the excitement of living on their own, but all it takes for a fire to start is a moment of negligence. We all know that fires can be devastating, not only to properties but to human lives and yet many wouldn’t happen if tenants took simple preventative measures, such as not leaving cooking unattended, not overloading plug banks and ensuring cigarettes are properly extinguished.”

In a recent case, a student left the plastic covering from food packaging on the hob and forgot to turn the hob off. The plastic cover caught fire causing damage to the worktops, cupboards and sink in the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the property. According to Total Landlord Insurance, the average value for a fire related incident in a rented property is £19,052.

Total Landlord Insurance is also reminding landlords of their responsibilities to ensure their property is suitable for the type of tenant. They must carry out a fire risk assessment, HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation, which many student houses are) require an escape route lit with emergency lighting and the property should have fire resistant doors that automatically close. All upholstered furnishings must be made from a fire-resistant material, there should be a working fire alarm on every floor and carbon monoxide detectors in any room with fuel burning appliances.

10 precautions landlords should enforce and students should take note of to minimise the risk of fire

1. Smoke outside the property
2. Avoid lighting candles
3. Check that sockets are not overloaded
4. Do not use electric heaters for drying clothes or towels and keep flammable materials like oven mitts and wooden utensils away from cooking areas and heaters.
5. Keep escape routes clear and do not prop fire doors open
6. Unplug all appliances when not in use, do not just switch off – particularly phone chargers and hair straighteners
7. Ensure there is a fire blanket in the kitchen
8. Regularly check smoke alarms are working

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